Warren Hood and band come from Texas royalty
There’s something about hearing Warren Hood’s Texas drawl that is gracious and inviting—as he speaks about his recent experience at Merlefest, you can almost imagine his spurs spinning with excitement. “I got to play with Elvis Costello and Little Feat,” relays Hood from his home in Austin. “It was not just business as usual.”
And business is brisk for Hood, a 26-year-old multi-instrumentalist whose version of Americana incorporates everything from blues, jazz, country, rock ’n’ roll to bluegrass. “I’m juggling my time between The Waybacks and The Hoodlums for the summer,” notes Hood as he gets ready to board a plane for The Waybacks rehearsal in New York. “I get off one tour and start another. I hibernate for the winter months; I pretty much don’t go on the road for six months of the year.”
There’s an old joke down in Texas that goes: “There’s more than 300 bands in Austin, but only 100 musicians.” The Hoodlums might be spending most of the year in the musical capital of their state, but that doesn’t mean it’s down time; bandleader Hood admits that each member plays in at least four or five other acts.
Hood’s own Austin calendar includes a country music who’s who of talent. “I play with Toni Price every Tuesday, and every Thursday with Caspar Rawls and David Grissom at the Continental Club,” he begins. “Every Sunday The Hoodlums play at Momo’s and then we take it to Dallas, Houston or San Antonio for the weekends.” He’s slightly out of breath reciting his weekly itinerary. “I also do session work and pick up random gigs with people like Bob Schneider and Danny Levin. I never stop when I’m home—sometimes I have to turn my phone off and go fishin’ just to take a breather.”
Classical violin was Hood’s early inspiration, and he was taught by the same maestro, Bill Dick, who also taught worldwide sensation Carrie Rodriguez. “He started with me when I was 13 and I was strictly classical until I sat in with my first country band and got a taste for improvising and swinging and having a little more fun at the bars,” he fondly remembers. “It was a natural evolution and I still use all those skills when I play fiddle. My Dad was a fiddle player so I was always around it.”
His late father, Champ Hood, is a Texas musical icon who toured with Lyle Lovett and whom Warren honors at his live shows. Most of the songs The Hoodlums play are originals—a mix of gypsy jazz, country and blues with Hood’s unparalleled violin/fiddle and mandolin complemented by his own distinctive voice. In concert, he warns, expect to be wowed by Hoodlums piano player, Emily Gimbles. “Emily’s grandfather played in Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys band,” Hood proudly states. “She comes from three generations of Texas musicians.”
This is The Hoodlums’ first trip together across state lines, and the frontman is excited about the upcoming road trip to California. “A band really grows on the road,” he says. “I see it all the time: A mediocre band leaves for a tour for a month playing consecutive nights—the days are passed driving and talking about the night before and trying to make the next one even better. And when they return they’re a whole hell of a lot better.”
You’re likely to see dreadlocked hippies dancing alongside cowboys doing the two-step when The Hoodlums take the stage at Don Quixote’s on Monday, May 24, and the young talent has a fine sonic blend to meet any varied crowd. “Your individual style is made up of everything you have heard,” he begins, “and you just gotta take what you like and leave what you don’t.”
Warren Hood and The Hoodlums perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 24, at Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 603-2294.